The rising trend of grandparents, children and grandchildren living in the same home is fueled largely by hard times and cultural preferences, a new Census brief shows.
Multigenerational households are more likely to be in areas where immigrants live with relatives and in places where housing costs are so high that families are doubling up, according to the state-by-state Census brief out today. Non-Hispanic white families make up the smallest share of these households -- 3.7%, compared with more than 10% Hispanic and American Indian and 9% black and Asian.
Households of three or more generations also are prevalent in low-income areas and places with a higher percentage of children born to unmarried mothers, the data compiled from 2009 through 2011 show.
Multigenerational families live in 4.3 million homes in the U.S., or 5.6% of all family households. That's up from 3.7% in 2000.
"Partly that's because of the Great Recession, but I'd say most of the growth in multigenerational households is because of the increase in Hispanics and other immigrants," says Cheryl Russell, former editor in chief of American Demographics, now editorial director of New Strategist Publications. "A lot of Asian families assume that their aging parents will live with them."
Almost two-thirds of these families include a householder, a child and a grandchild. About a third have a householder, a parent and a child.
Native Hawaiians have the largest percentage, 13%, and Hawaii is the state with the biggest share, 11.1%. North Dakota had the smallest, 1.9%.
The largest concentration of multigenerational families are in the South, West and eastern coastline -- areas that have a lot of immigrants, expensive housing or both.
Unemployment has sent many young adults back to the nest in recent years but demographers expect that pattern to be temporary.
"There are stories about college kids going home, true," Russell says. "But are they living there for very long?"
Boomerang kids may eventually move out, but home builders are preparing for the tidal wave of aging Americans that they expect will lead to more generations moving in together. Home builder Lennar's NEXT GEN, described as "a home within a home," launched in Phoenix last year and is expanding to several states.
"It's a single-family home with a separate apartment inside the home, its own entrance from the outside, its own living area, own kitchenette, bedroom, bathroom, stacked washer and dryer and sometimes its own garage," says Jeff Roos, western regional president. "It's an opportunity for families to live together but not on top of one another." Demand is high as Baby Boomers age and younger adults return from the military or divorce, he says. "Multigenerational is the way of the future."
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